Luck of the Irish

If there’s one team with an unimpressive record I’m afraid of, it’s the Boston Celtics. They may not have the most dangerous offensive attack, but with a defensive rating behind only the Spurs and Pacers, they don’t need to do much with the ball in their hands as long as they’re terrorizing their opponents at the other end of the court.

From the two games the Mavericks have played against Boston so far this season, I must say: the terror never stops. The Celtics turn every offensive possession into an 80s slasher film. The tension builds with each pass, and sometimes you can catch a quick glimpse of where a player is looking to go next, only to see a sneaky Celtic edging in that direction. Your heart races, your body tightens up, and you scream in vain at the player not to make that fucking pass. He does, though, and the Celtics defense hacks him up just like the rest of the Mavericks at summer camp.

The Mavs actually fared pretty well against Boston’s vicious defense this time around. They shot 43 percent from the field, which is right around what the Celtics usually allow their opponents to shoot, and they only turned the ball over 14 times, whereas Boston typically forces closer to 17 per contest.

For most of the game, in fact, Dallas cruised. Things started perfectly, as the Mavs left the first quarter with a 29-16 advantage, and they remained 13 points ahead going into the half. The third quarter is where things got dicey, as Boston mounted an attack that would make Paul Revere proud. Despite an incredible and-one three-pointer from Dirk Nowitzki that put his team up by five with just 1:30 left in regulation, the Celtics would not be denied. An unfortunate foul committed by Raymond Felton as Jae Crowder attempted to tie the game in the final seconds with a three sent the former Maverick to the line, where he connected on all three attempts. Overtime — again.

This game was all about the clutch performances of Nowitzki and Deron Williams. Those two are simply magical during crunch time, and last night was no different. Whenever my heart is beating the hardest while watching the Mavericks, time and time again it’s Nowitzki and Williams who slow it down. I’m 43 games into my Mavericks fandom, and they’ve already combined to make so many big shots in the late moments.

They were so good in this one, in fact, that the only other player for Dallas to even score in overtime was Chandler Parsons, who splashed in a three to get things rolling just 18 seconds into the extra period. The other 17 points were all Deron and Dirk. Oh, and they also combined to score the final eight points of the fourth quarter too.

All told, Dirk got himself another double-double, finishing with 31 points and 11 rebounds for probably his best effort of the season. As for Deron, his hot stretch continued; he ended the night with 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists. He also led all Mavericks with a +18 in nearly 37 minutes.

Not to be forgotten, Parsons added 16 points and hit two crucial late three-pointers. Wes Matthews had a sensational first half, scoring 15 points, although he failed to add to that total in the final two quarters and change. Felton came up big off the bench, contributing 14 points of his own. Make no mistake, this was a solid team effort all around, particularly to fight back after coughing up a big lead.

When Dallas initially reclaimed the lead late in the fourth quarter, Eduardo Najera summed it up with his typical eloquence when the broadcast cut to the studio for a quick game break following a timeout: “They actually went kind of dead for a minute, and then they survived, but you know what? We’re in a great position right now; they just gotta finish up strong.”

I can only assume that rather than referring to the Mavericks as both “we” and “they” in back-to-back sentences, Najera meant that he felt that he and Dana were in a good position in the studio as long as the team didn’t go kind of dead again. They didn’t, of course. They went on to snatch the game out away from the Celtics, and now the schedule gets a little bit easier.

Well, they have games against the Thunder and Warriors before the month ends, but you get the idea.

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